• Megann Horstead

Joliet officials adopt new pet rules


Discussion of pet laws dominated a Joliet City Council meeting held Nov. 21, at which point officials were slated to make a decision to amend a series of ordinances to satisfy this aim.

Two proposed ordinances were reviewed, with one serving a replicate of the policy adopted by the City of Chicago that requires pet stores to acquire dogs, which they intend to sell, from rescue operations, public pounds, humane societies, and similar operations; and another model that several residents described as less restrictive in allowing pet stores to obtain dogs from a USDA licensed breeder, a humane society or rescue, or a hobby breeder who is not required to be licensed by the USDA.

More than 10 people approached city officials with remarks during the public comments section.

Councilman Larry Hug wanted to thank everyone who came out to meeting—no matter which side of the argument their on.

“We’re on the same page,” he said. “The disagreement is on the solution.”

Councilman John Gerl recognized the passion shown by those supporting rescue dogs and went on to say that a less restrictive ordinance will better serve the City.

Several residents voiced support for the ordinance that is more restrictive and shared stories encapsulating the evils of puppy mills and the harm they can do unto animals.

No one in attendance for the meeting expressed a liking for puppy mills and the dangers they can wreak.

Joliet resident Robert Hernandez wanted it to be clear that not all pet stores adhere to deceptive practices.

“Every pet that we purchased from a pet store had no health issues, had no psychological issues, and that’s from 1982 to today,” he said. “My brother just recently got his first dog from a shelter. All of his other dogs are purchased at a pet store, and my brother took it hard when his dog, Nostalgia, died a few months ago. [It was] very difficult for him, but he died of natural causes after 17 years. I just believe it’s everybody’s right to have a pro-choice of where they acquire their animal—whether it’s a shelter, a humane society or a pet store. That is our constitutional right to make that decision.”

Tracy Ross, of LaSalle, cast a differing view of pet stores, such as the former Furry Babies based out of Peru--the location in which she used to serve as an employee.

“As employees, there were required trainings coaching us on how to respond to customers that asked questions, such as ‘This dog appears sick. What’s wrong with it?'’" she recalled. "Our stock answer per training … was that 'these dogs were having just a mere reaction to vaccines.’”

Ross said prior to working at the Peru store, she had little knowledge of the dangers of puppy mills.

“I began to question the origin of the dogs after observing the dogs coming in sick or having serious issues, including cleft palette, pneumonia, intestinal parasites, extremely small dogs less than two pounds and parvo,” she said.

Ross started conducting research to learn more about where the store acquired its animals only to find they were retrieved from puppy mills. She wanted the unethical business practices of Furry Babies, formerly based out of Peru, to be known.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman said she was disappointed with the council’s decision to motion to approve the less restrictive ordinance.

“I had hoped that this council would’ve gone with version ‘A,’ like our neighbors did—Romeoville, Crest Hill and especially Chicago,” she said. “Once Chicago won that fight—which was in court for a couple years, and the courts decided that version ‘A’ was the way to go—I am very disappointed this council is only going with version ‘B.’”

A separate pet ordinance prohibiting their sale from any public way, disallowing them from being given away as prizes, and regulating how their transported was also examined and went on to be approved without opposition.

In a 7-1 vote, the council approved the less restrictive pet ordinance addressing puppy mills. Quillman cast the lone dissenting vote.

Nepotism in hiring

Also at the meeting, Joliet officials took time to review an ordinance designed to address nepotism.

The matter was recently discussed by members of the City’s Land Use and Legislation Committee to help curve issues stemming from hiring relatives to work in the same workplace.

Councilman Larry Hug acknowledged that relatives should not be hired if one is already serving as an elected official and expressed a desire for the ordinance to go further in addressing nepotism. He wanted the council to table the matter and sought an amendment to the ordinance to include a strict requirement that a relative employee, as defined by the policy, must fill out a disclosure form.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said all of that would get vetted during the campaign season, if such a situation were to arise.

The ordinance, as amended, stipulates that no relatives are to be hired by Joliet after an individual is elected, appointed or selected to serve. It goes on to state that this policy does not apply to relatives who are already employed by the city prior to an individual taking steps to become an elected official.

In an 8-0 vote, the Joliet City Council decided to approve the policy as amended.

Round it up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Nov. 21 regular meeting of the Joliet City Council:

  • Joliet officials tabled a measure allowing for the annexation of eight parcels near the former Silver Cross Hospital located at Maple Road and Hebbard Street. The City Council will consider taking action at its Dec. 5 meeting.

  • The City of Joliet formed a deal with the City of Crest Hill regarding the installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Gaylord Road and Division Street. The agreement stipulates that the City of Crest Hill is responsible for funding the local share for the engineering and construction costs and the remainder is to be paid for using federal funds from the Surface Transportation Program. It goes on to note that the City of Joliet is required to provide for future maintenance of the traffic signals at the intersection in question.

#government #Joliet

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